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Sea-air shipments via Dubai and Singapore to Europe and the US have either been suspended or seen prices soar.
Aeromar, which specialises in sea freight to Dubai and onward travel by air, said it had suspended its services with immediate effect, although all cargo currently on route would continue.
It said it had been forced to make this decision as airlines began cancelling flights from Dubai.
“We can fix rates three weeks in advance, but if during the sea voyage, flights get cancelled, it’s pretty difficult to go back and ask a customer for more money to use one of the few carriers left,” said MD Nick Coverdale.
“And with air cargo rates still not that expensive from Hong Kong and South-east Asia, for example, the sea-air service doesn’t look that attractive, especially with the uncertainties. The only option is to put the goods back on ship going to Europe, but that’s not realistic.
“Shippers deserve better.”
He said the company would review the situation over the weekend.
SAT Albatros, another Dubai-based sea-air outfit, has suspended all rate agreements and added a $1 per kg surcharge on all live shipments.
It has also suspended sea-air traffic via Singapore and Dubai into the US and its service from Singapore to Europe, the US and South Africa. Only its Dubai-Europe service is available.
The company told customers: “We are monitoring the situation carefully and will keep you updated. All cargo that is on the way to transit hubs on all routes for uplifting, we will individually advise revised costing and routing amendment.
“In Dubai, the situation has also changed overnight. Many flights have been taken out and rate levels are moving upwards heavily. All airfreight agreements have been cancelled with immediate effect.
“It will also affect the shipments we have on hand; shipments that are on the sea or even arrived in Dubai.”
“In order to ensure live shipments are uplifted, we’ve implemented a short-term emergency surcharge of $1 per kg effective immediately. All existing rate agreements are temporarily suspended. Applicable rates are now to be confirmed on booking.”
However, one UK-based forwarder said it was still operating sea-air services via Dubai, and that “rates are still a fraction of air freight from Far East/China currently”.
He added that Singapore still had passenger carriers operating and that rates there “had not fluctuated much”, although reduced flights by the major Chinese carriers would add some pressure.